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Monday, November 29, 2010, 06:35 am PT (09:35 am ET)

As world's most-sued tech company, Apple is forced to 'lawyer up'

Apple, the most-sued technology company in the world since after the iPhone was released, is stocking up on lawyers for patent battles with rivals Nokia, HTC and Motorola.

According to Businessweek, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is recruiting lawyers who have experience fighting for and against some of the world's largest technology companies. The legal battle is seen as an effort to stop Android, the competing mobile operating system from search giant Google.

"Apple has hired some of the nation's top patent lawyers as outside counsel," authors Adam Satariano and Susan Decker wrote. "They include Ropert Krupka of Kirkland & Ellis, who negotiated a 2005 settlement in which Apple agreed to pay $100 million to Creative Technology Ltd., maker of the Zen music player; William Lee WilmerHale in Boston, who successfully represented Broadcom Corp in its fight against Qualcomm; and Matt powers of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, who successfully defended the patent on Merck & Co.'s biggest product, the $4.7 billion-a-year asthma drug Singulair."

Apple's legal efforts are led by Bruce Sewell, the company's general counsel. It also added Noreen Krall, former chief intellectual property counsel for Sun Microsystems and IBM, as an in-house attorney this year.

The report also noted that Apple has been the most-sued technology company since 2008, a year after the iPhone hit the market, according to LegalMetric Inc.

Apple has been bombarded with lawsuits in recent years, facing 27 new patent infringement suits filed in 2009 alone. Apple has said that responding to those claims, regardless of merit, consumes "significant time and expense."

Apple and Nokia are engaged in a mutual legal battle in which each company has accused the other of patent infringement. Apple has argued that Nokia has infringed on 13 patents related to a variety of technologies, including graphical user interface and booting of a handset, while Nokia has accused Apple of 10 patent violations.

Apple is also engaged in lawsuits with Motorola and HTC, two hardware makers that create handsets running the Google Android operating system. Those complaints have largely been viewed as an Apple versus Android battle.

"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it," Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a comment after the HTC suit was filed. "We've decided to do something about it."